Deaton didn't look surprised to see her when Lydia showed up at the clinic that evening, but then he was a master at hiding his emotions, so it didn't mean much.
“Lydia,” he said, peeling rubber gloves off his hands with a snap. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I've been hearing things.” She raised her eyebrows pointedly, giving him time to let that sink in.
“Okay.” He sat down by the examination table, and drew another chair for Lydia. “Please, have a seat. So those things you heard, I imagine no one else can hear them too?”
“You think right.”
“But you haven't found any dead bodies, I presume, or you would be talking with the police rather than with me. Tell me about what you heard.”
Lydia described the crowd noises that she'd heard, and as she recounted her experience she felt frustrated at how useless it all was. It could have been anything, really, and she wanted it to be related to her friends, but she was afraid it was only wishful thinking.
Deaton remained silent for a moment after she'd stopped talking. The dim light inside the room made his expression difficult to discern. “Why did you come to me?” he finally asked.
“Jennifer said I was a banshee—I want to know more about what it involves. I want to understand my powers, and to learn how to control them rather than... let them lead me around by the nose until I stumble on a dead body. If I can help find Allison and the boys...”
Deaton frowned. “What makes you think this is related to their disappearance?”
“It's just—a feeling that I have.”
Lydia pinched her lips, trying not to show how lost and confused she felt. She would have given anything at that moment for uncomplicated claws and fangs, instead of those nebulous abilities that made her feel like she'd lost her mind.
“But you're not sure that 'feeling' doesn't come from you wanting it to be about them.”
Lydia narrowed her eyes at Deaton's perceptiveness. “Yes,” she said shortly. “Or rather no, I'm not sure. If it's related to them, then it must mean that—that they're dying, or in danger of dying, right?”
“Mmm.” Deaton rose to his feet, and turned his back to Lydia to look through the content of a drawer. “What you need to understand is that banshees are quite a rare occurrence, and that I haven't met any of your kind before.”
“Yes, yes, stop it with the disclaimers,” Lydia snapped. “Just tell me what you’re thinking.”
Deaton shut the drawer with an almost inaudible sigh, obviously not having found what he was looking for.
“This is just a theory, but I see a possible reason why you would have a sort of—how to put it—a connection, maybe, to your friends.”
“Well, what is it?”
He turned back to her, crossing his arms over his chest. “The ritual, the one they did to awaken the Nemeton's power—for a moment there, they were dead. Even if they were revived, this is the sort of thing that leaves a trace.”
“And I can feel death,” Lydia murmured, catching onto what he meant. “Are you saying—is it possible that I could actually use that connection to find them?”
“I'm saying this is a remote possibility,” Deaton said in an overly cautious tone that made Lydia want to scream. “Maybe what you heard has no relation to Scott, Allison, and Stiles. Maybe it does but we won't be able to decipher it. In any case, I'm sure you will agree that this is worth a try, although I would caution you to expect a lot of frustration and disappointment.”
Frustration and disappointment didn't sound any worse than a mere inconvenience after the past week. “I can deal with that. I'd rather try than do nothing at all. But—I'm not sure how we can use what I heard: is it something that one of them was hearing at that moment? If so, then it's odd. How could they be in a crowd after having been kidnapped?”
“You compared the way the crowd sounded to people at a concert.”
“Yes, it was—it wasn't like hearing the rumble of people buzzing around at the mall. They were cheering at something. The only word I could hear clearly was 'kill.' Like in a gladiators' fight. Do you think—”
“People using werewolves in death matches isn't unheard of.”
Lydia's fists clutched at the fabric of her dress. “What about Stiles and Allison, then?”
“People using people in that sort of fights—slaves, for example—is also something that has happened in the past.”
Did it mean that Stiles and Allison were being forced to fight werewolves, or worse? Allison had been trained to face supernatural creatures, but she needed to be properly armed to be at her most effective, and Stiles—Lydia shut that train of thought with determination. Scott wouldn't let anything happen to Stiles, or to Allison for that matter. He would protect them with everything he had. What she needed to do, was to focus on how she could help them, rather than flounder at the thought of what could be happening to them.
“What can I do? Even if we're right about this, it doesn't tell us where they are.”
“I think that the problem you have is that your rational mind is hindering the natural process of your abilities.”
“What do you mean?”
“You're a very intelligent girl, Lydia.” She jerked a nod, wanting him to forego flattery and get to the point. “But in this case, your intelligence is working against you. There are things we can try to direct your powers in a more constructive way: meditation, certain rituals and drugs to open your awareness. Not all of them will be pleasant.”
Lydia leveled him with her fiercest look. “I'm ready for anything.”
His lips formed the faintest of smiles. “I certainly hope you are.”
Well, a voice in her head that sounded a bit like Stiles said, that didn't sound foreboding at all.
A couple of weeks passed, and they settled into a horrifying routine. They fought every couple of days, and each time their opponents were weird hybrids of some kinds of shifters with other creatures that Scott generally didn't recognize. Allison and Stiles, having poured over the Argent bestiary, could more often than not offer a good guess: wendigo, basilisk, harpy. They were all teenagers, too, all kids their age, and although they were more resistant than humans, they didn't have Scott's almost instantaneous healing abilities. They always looked human enough that Scott couldn't ignore it.
They were lucky enough that the three of them were always fighting a single opponent, probably because Allison and Stiles were two unarmed humans, and that evened the odds, or maybe because Miller knew that they were pack, and figured that separating them would make them less efficient. They managed to win all of their fights through a refinement of Stiles' bait and switch tactic, and Scott using himself as a werewolf shield to protect his friends, getting himself clawed, bitten, stung, and scratched, and getting through the pain by thinking how much more terrible it would be if Allison and Stiles were in his place. When it came to the killing, though, he could never bring himself to do it, but Stiles and Allison never gave the guards the time to shoot him again as a motivation. In their second fight, Stiles was the one who did it, bashing their opponent's head repeatedly against the ground. It was a gruesome death, and the following day Stiles didn't speak a word until mid-afternoon. When he came out of his self-imposed silence, he acted as though nothing had been wrong at all. For their third and fourth fights, Allison and Stiles teamed up with frightening efficiency.
When they didn't fight, they were left alone in their cell and spent their time trying to help Stiles cope with the inactivity. They were fed once a day, generally bland rice, with a fruit every other day and sometimes a bit of beef jerky, and taken separately to the bathroom twice a day. They were only allowed to shower after a fight. With the rest of the hours left on their hands they exercised under Allison's strict tutelage, and discussed abundantly the nature of the people they fought in the cage.
The mystery had the merit of capturing Stiles' attention. He called them chimeras, and claimed they were probably the result of scientific meddling.
“Everything I've read on the supernatural seems to support the idea that they shouldn't be able to exist,” he insisted. “They all have a mix of characteristics from different species that never meet in one individual. Therefore, it had to be caused artificially. I wish Lydia was here,” he added with a sigh, then realized what he'd said and grimaced. “I mean, no, I don't wish she was here with us, because that would suck and I'd much rather she's safe at home, but I wish, you know, that I could pick her brain to better understand this.”
“Do you think, maybe, that they were—humans, once?” Scott asked, even though the idea horrified him so much he didn't really want an answer. But it was like poking at an open wound, he couldn't leave it alone.
“I don't know,” Stiles said, and Scott knew him too well not to see that he probably had a definite opinion on the subject, but thought Scott couldn't handle it.
“That's sick,” Allison said. “Do you think they've been kidnapped, like us?”
Maybe, had been Stiles' answer. Scott was jostled from the memory by a cry of surprise and pain. He blinked, trying to clear his mind. They were fighting, yes, that was what they were doing, fighting a guy who looked enough like a werewolf that it was how Scott had dubbed him in his mind, even though he had some weird talon-like things on his hands. He was strong and fast, and had tossed Scott and Allison around. Scott didn't think he'd lost consciousness, but his thoughts were a little jumbled.
Allison! Relief bloomed in his chest when he saw her a little ahead of him, getting back to her feet—she looked unhurt, absently brushing up her clothes even though the floor wasn't dusty or dirty. Scott saw alarm dawn on her face, eyes and mouth open wide, and he felt his heart constrict. He'd heard a scream—it hadn't been Allison's. Scott followed her look and saw with horror that the werewolf they were fighting was straddling Stiles' chest, one hand around his throat and the other one raised over Stiles' head, his face twisted with a grimace of anticipated triumph. Stiles squeezed his eyes shut, and Scott felt the wild, animal part of him that he always kept in check let loose, roaring in fury.
Everything around him had become blurry and muted. The edges of his vision colored with red. He didn't feel himself move, but he blinked and then he was on the werewolf, tearing him away from Stiles, claws planted deep in the werewolf's shoulders. The guy howled in pain, twisting around to blindly slash at Scott, but Scott caught his wrist and gripped it tight, feeling the brittle bones grind under his crushing hold.
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!
The audience was going crazy, but their cries were just a mere background noise. On the forefront of Scott's mind were Stiles' little sounds of choked off pain, his wheezing and coughing that would have been completely overwhelmed by the crowd's roaring its elation if Scott hadn't been so attuned to his friend. It made Scott's heart miss a few beats. At the corner of his eye he saw Stiles trying to pick himself up; the werewolf saw it too and jerked forward, like he was trying to get himself out of Scott's grasp to go at Stiles again. Scott reacted on instinct, no conscious thought needed. His own arm moved in a blur and blood spurted. His opponent went limp, slumping over Scott and smearing his blood everywhere on him.
Hurrahs and whoops of joy erupted all around him, and Scott suddenly snapped back into himself. He hurriedly pushed the body away and watched it crumple onto the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
Allison was at his side in an instant. “Scott?” she murmured. “Are you okay?”
Scott couldn't speak, like he'd run out of words and was reduced to raw sensations: the warm sticky blood on his chest, the metallic tang of it, the roars of the crowd in his ears, the way his heart was still pumping hard in his ribcage. Stiles stepped up to him, mouth open like he was about to speak. But he had one look at Scott's face and whatever he saw there must have made him think better of it, because he snapped his mouth shut.
They were chained again and led out of the cage. Out of the haze that surrounded Scott, an image sprung at him, clear and precise like a movie in high-definition. Miller was there, standing at the edge of the tunnel taking them back to their cell with a stout, middle-aged balding man in a suit that look expensive. She was saying, “—was quite a show, wasn't it, Mr. Catron?” The man didn't answer but his eyes met with Scott's, and something about the way he looked at him made a chill creep up Scott's spine. There was something calmly assessing about it, like the man was looking at an interesting display in a museum rather than at a fellow human being. It didn't last more than a second, and then Scott was dragged away with Stiles and Allison and they were shoved into the shower room for their usual post-fight wash up.
Scott was grateful for once that their clothes were going to get thrown away, because having to clean up the blood that had splashed onto his skin was nauseating enough. He thought about the half-dozen times he'd seen Allison and Stiles wash someone else's blood off themselves and not thought much of it beyond being grateful that they were still alive. He'd had it so easy. All along he'd thought he was protecting them but in fact he'd let them kill—let them do the dirty work—just so his own hands could stay clean. His hands—
Scott's hands were shaking, and it wasn't entirely from the cold water pouring over him. The claws had retracted and at the tips of his fingers only blunt, human fingernails remained. He pressed his back against the wall and slid down to the floor, ass hitting the tiles with a wet slap.
Stiles crouched in front of him, and Scott expected him to reach out for him, but he didn't. There was a red mark around his throat where the werewolf had tried to choke him. He looked at Scott; a wry, pitiless sort of look—but not unkind either. Scott felt naked under that stare—he was literally naked, of course, and so was Stiles, but he'd gotten used to it and it didn't bother him much that he'd seen his best friend's dick and vice-versa a lot more often than was probably prescribed by the bro code. That sense that all his defenses were stripped by Stiles' unflinching gaze, all his flaws and hypocrisies coming up to the light—that was a lot more unsettling than a simple lack of clothing.
“I killed him,” he said numbly.
The water stopped falling from above him and Allison sat down with them, drawing her legs to her chest in a way that covered her breasts and crotch.
“I know, dude,” Stiles said. “Welcome to the club—and thank you, by the way.”
“Thank you—you saved my life. He was going to kill me, Scott, but you didn't let him.”
“I would never,” Scott said, balking at the notion that he could have let it happen. “You know I wouldn't.”
He wiped a hand across his face, frustrated by how slowly his thoughts moved. Somehow he hadn't really made the connection between not letting Stiles die and killing someone, as though they were two distinct events that had merely happened simultaneously. But now the thought cut through him like one of Allison's arrows—Stiles dying, his throat slashed by werewolf claws—and the pain it caused was so sharp, so acute that Scott choked on it for a moment.
“Scott? Breathe with me, man, okay? You have to breathe.”
“No, no, I'm not—” Scott stammered, struggling to get his words out. “I'm not having a panic attack.”
“Oh. Okay, um. Are you—?”
Scott took hold of Stiles' wrist and then of Allison's hand, and clutch them both hard.
“I'm fine,” he gritted out, but it was probably obvious to his friends that he was lying through his teeth.
If Stiles died, half of his world would crumble to dust. They'd been best friends for years and pack mates for months, but everything that had happened to them since their kidnapping had added yet another layer to that. Same with Allison—the intensity of their first meeting and the beginning of their relationship paled compared to what they had now, the bond that blood and captivity had forged between them. His whole life had been snatched from under his feet: his mother, his friends, his pack, school, his dreams for the future. Without Stiles and Allison there really would be nothing left of him.
“Scott...” It was Allison, looking at him with her brow furrowed. She flicked her wet hair out of her eyes. “We're not going to tell you it was okay, because it wasn't.” She shared a furtive glance with Stiles. “If we'd been able to, you know we would have kept—”
“No,” Scott said. “It's not—you shouldn't have to take this upon yourself, just because I'm too much of a coward...” The words got lost on their way to his mouth.
“Scott,” she said gently.
“I love you,” he said, feeling the words bubble out of him with burning urgency. “Both of you, I mean. I—”
He could feel that love inside him like a physical thing, and it wasn't the warm glow he was used to, comforting and reliable, but an edged, cutting feeling that ripped through his insides. He would kill—had killed, and would kill again for them. If it was the last thing he did, he would make sure that Allison and Stiles got out of this alive.
Stiles slapped him on the thigh. “We know, and we love you too, buddy,” he said, standing up. “I'm freezing my ass off, and I think our Cerberuses are getting impatient. Let's go back to the comfort of our suite.”
Scott was quiet the next day, but not alarmingly silent like Stiles had been after his first kill, and Allison thought he was going to be okay. Or at least, as okay as any of them could be these days. Miller came to coo her approval at Scott, calling him a 'good little werewolf', and Allison thought for a moment that Scott was going to jump her—Allison herself barely managed to hold herself back. That night they were given a blanket, and, although no one outright said it, the meaning was clear: a good performance warranted a reward. If they played their part, their lives would get easier. If they didn't—well, they had already received that particular message loud and clear.
They were moved a couple of days after this. At first, when they were chained up and taken out of their cell, they'd naturally thought they were about to go fight, but when they were also blindfolded and put on the back of a van, panic settled in all three of them.
“Where are you taking us?” Stiles had wanted to know. “Where's Miller? What's going on?” It had only earned him a backhanded slap across the face.
In the end, they were locked inside a similar sort of cell than before, although this one had a small window, more like a hatch, really, and for the first time in weeks they could actually get some daylight. Stiles thoroughly explored their new home for weaknesses, but it turned out to be as hermetic as their former cell had been.
As a coping mechanism for his ADHD, Stiles had taken to observing their surroundings and recording everything in the hope that he would spot a weakness that would allow them to escape. He watched their guards closely—most of them former military or law enforcement, he said—trying to figure out how many of them there were in total from the frequency at which they saw familiar faces again, how they worked their rounds, trying to spot the surveillance cameras whenever they were let out. They saw other doors, presumably leading to cells like theirs, but they were never able to catch sight of any of the other prisoners.
Scott, for his part, spent a lot of time just listening for any piece of information they could use. Most of the guards were generally careful about speaking in front of them, but they also obviously weren't fully aware of just how acute an Alpha werewolf's hearing was, and sometimes they let things escape when they thought Scott couldn't hear them.
Allison left them to it. She wasn't very hopeful that they would manage to escape, and preferred to concentrate on fighting for their survival until they were rescued. Scott may think of himself as their protector, it was both Scott's instinct and an Alpha one, but Allison knew that among the three of them, she was the fighter. When they were in the cage, she sometimes could hear her mother whisper to her. If you don't want them to die, you need to win this fight. Don't let yourself be distracted—you have to forget about everything else. Do it, Allison! She knew it was only her mind's way to help her deal with everything, but the voice sometimes sounded so real that she almost teared up. Crying isn't going to help you do what you need to do, Allison.
“I heard that name again,” Scott was saying, tearing Allison away from her thoughts. Today was one of their days off and they were sitting in a circle, discussing their situation.
“The doctor's name?” Stiles asked. His hands always had to keep busy, and he was currently rethreading the shoelace in his left sneaker. He'd gone through that process a couple times already.
“Yeah. I'm pretty sure her full name is 'Cara Robinson'.”
Dr. Robinson was a name Scott had heard several times in the guards' conversations, and it was Stiles' theory that she was the chimeras' creator. Allison didn't disagree with him, but she wasn't sure how helpful it was to them.
“There was something else,” Scott said. “They were talking about her in the past—you know, like she was dead.”
“If she's dead,” Allison said, “does it mean that they're going to run out of chimeras to throw at us?” She felt hopeful about it for a second, until she realized that it would also mean they would have outlasted their use.
“Maybe,” Stiles said. He'd started on his right shoe now, his fingers shaking a little. “But I'm not so sure. The way they've set those matches—the fact that they made them death matches—they need to be pretty sure they're not going to run out of fresh meat. They must know how to make more. You know, maybe Dr. Robinson only thought out the science behind it—maybe she never willingly cooperated, and that's why she's dead now.”
“Do you think Deaton might know about this?” Scott asked. “I wish we could ask him.”
“I still can't tell if Deaton knows everything, or knows nothing and is always winging it. In any case, he would probably just throw cryptic bullshit at us until we figure it out ourselves.”
“This is a lot of speculations based on a name. And anyway, what can we do with that information?” Allison said, but she regretted it when she saw Stiles' face twist in a grimace. Scott shot her a reproachful look: speculating was Stiles' way to stay sane; it didn't matter that it was futile, and she wasn't helping by pointing it out.
Stiles stood up and started walking barefoot around the cell. Allison opened her mouth and was about to issue an apology, when he bent over and picked up a bit of cement gravel. Then he crouched, facing the corner, and started tracing something on the wall with the piece of gravel.
“What are you doing?” Allison asked instead of her apology.
“Leaving a message. Cara Robinson's name, I'm leaving it here.”
Allison shared a look with Scott, who didn't look like he understood what Stiles was doing either. “A message for who?” she asked.
Stiles stopped in his task for a moment. “Anyone who finds it,” he said at first, but then he shook his head like it wasn't what he'd meant to say. “For Lydia.”
“How's Lydia going to get that message?”
“We've been moved before, we're probably going to get moved again. Our parents are looking for us, you know they are. Maybe Derek has come back from South America with Isaac and Cora, and they can track us by scent and find this place, and you know Lydia, she'll want to be involved, so you know, maybe—”
He sighed, and swiveled on the balls of his feet to look at her. “I know it's a long shot—more than a long shot, an impossible shot. I'm not stupid, I know that, okay? I just need to do it—I can't not do it, I can't give up, because if I do then I'm letting it win.”
Maybe he'd had his pronouns mixed up and meant 'them', but Allison instinctively knew what he was talking about because she could feel it too: he was referring to the darkness they all had in them. They never talked about it, the same way that, for all they speculated about the chimeras and the people who'd captured them, they never talked about the fights, about the killing. They couldn't give it power by making it real, but they could feel that the less they had to hold onto, the deeper the darkness anchored into their hearts, until all they could do was cling to each other at night, using each other as a shield against it.
She wanted to say that if Derek or one of the other werewolves could track them by scent, then they would have been found already. But no doubt he knew that, and hope was a flimsy thing but it was all they had right now. That, and each other—so she said nothing.
Scott cleared his throat, breaking the momentary tension that had taken its hook into them. “Okay. I mean, it can't hurt. But I don't get it, it looks like you're writing numbers? What's that about?”
Stiles' face lit up with a smile. “Ah, see, that's 'cause my message is coded, of course! You don't think I would let them be aware of how much we know, do you? So I can't just write the name and hope they just don't find it.”
Stiles started explaining his code to Scott, and Allison tuned them out, content to let the sound of their chatter pour over her, a background music that helped her relax. She was hungry, but it was still a few hours until their meal, and her elbow was sore where she'd bumped it in a fight. All she could do about it was try to distract herself. Stiles' mention of Lydia turned her thoughts to her friend, and she wondered how she was doing. She must be worried about them. Was she helping look for them like Stiles thought? Was she trying to forget about them and go on with her life? Was she still hooking up with Aiden, or did she have a new boyfriend? The last thought brought in full force a memory of soft lips against hers and a sure hand around her waist, and Allison felt herself redden.
“Something wrong?” Scott asked, frowning at her. She wondered if he'd smelled something on her, and it only made her flush even harder.
“No, nothing, I was just thinking—remembering something. I'm fine,” she added, and smiled at him.
His frown softened but he still looked confused, and Stiles looked vaguely amused. Allison felt an urge to tell him what exactly she'd been remembering, just to wipe that look off his face, but then he was back to tracing his message and the moment passed.
I hope you're okay, she thought in Lydia's general direction. Whatever Lydia was doing, even if it was moving on and forgetting about them, it was important that one of them at least be fine.
The next time they were moved, they were ready for it and Stiles didn't feel the same alarm as before; at least, not until they were led through a glass door into a room lined up with animal-sized cages. When he realized that the men meant to shove him into one of these things Stiles started to fight back, trying to duck under their arms and make a run for the door. He was caught quickly and got a punch to the stomach for his trouble, and a casual threat from one of them, a lean scruffy Asian dude that Stiles had noticed before for his quiet enjoyment whenever he had to kick one of them around: “Do you want me to shoot your friend? He’s gotta be used to it, by now.”
“Okay, okay,” mumbled Stiles, folded in two from the pain. “No need to get nasty.”
None of the cages looked big enough for three human beings—they barely looked big enough for one—but the fact that it wasn't a surprise when they were put in three different cages didn't mean that Stiles could help the pang he felt at being locked on his own. He could barely sit up, and was immediately assaulted by a claustrophobic feeling when the barred door to his cage closed on him.
The guards left through the glass door again, and when it locked behind them with a bip that suggested an electronic system, Stiles pressed his face to the bars, but he couldn't see much of it.
“This looks like a kennel,” Scott said despondently.
“Do you think you could break through the glass door?” Stiles asked, ignoring his friend's comment. He'd had the same thought, but he didn't want to dwell on it. “Like, if you had enough momentum?”
“I'm sure the glass is pretty solid,” Allison said. “Probably bulletproof.”
Stiles ignored her too. “Scott, can you try the bars? See how solid they are.”
He heard the rattling sound of bars being shaken, then Scott said, “Feel pretty solid to me. If I had more room, so I could get some leverage, maybe.... Not without making a lot of noise, though.”
He sounded apologetic about it, so Stiles told him not to sweat it and sat back against the wall, finally defeated. His abs ached from the punch he had taken earlier, and now that the adrenaline rush of finding himself in a new place had subsided, he felt weary to the bone.
The cage wasn't big enough for him to do any of Allison's exercises, and the familiar crawling-ants feeling came back with a vengeance. He fidgeted, changed positions ten times a minute, exchanging a few words now and then with Scott and Allison. He was too restless, and all of them too tired for a real conversation. He didn't like that he couldn't see them. He hated that he couldn't feel them. Night came and Stiles tried to settle for sleep. There was only enough room in the cage for him to lie down if he bent his legs at the knees and curled in on himself, so he did, and crossed his arms over his chest, stuck his hands under his armpits to keep them warm. He closed his eyes, praying for sleep.
Allison's voice echoed in the room: “Good night, guys.” She sounded so far away; just the fact that she wasn't whispering it into his ear meant that she was definitely too far.
“Good night,” Scott answered.
Stiles shut his eyes tighter, then let out a frustrated groan.
“I'm not going to be able to sleep,” he declared.
“Do you want me to sing you a lullaby?” Allison asked, a teasing lilt to her voice.
“Maybe we should just talk for a little longer,” Scott said. “Until you feel comfortable enough to—”
“No, you guys need your sleep. Tomorrow—” Didn't bear thinking about. “I think I'll just—”
“Somehow, I don't think you can face insomnia quietly,” Scott said.
It didn't sound like a reproach but rather like a statement of fact, and, yeah, fair enough. Scott did know him better than anyone else—not that this was a particularly hard guess for anyone who had only just met him.
“Let's talk about something light,” Allison suggested. They all fell silent at that, then after a moment, Allison said, “Did I ever tell you about the time Lydia and I made out?”
“What?” Stiles sat up too fast and hit his head against the side of his cage. “How? When?”
“Well, there was lip contact, and hands were involved too—”
Stiles kicked the bars from his cage to tell her to quit being a smartass. “Okay, okay, I get the idea. When did that happen?” It occurred to him that Scott was being strangely silent about this. “You knew about it, Scott?”
“Uh, yeah? Allison told me.”
“How come no one tells me anything?”
“Now you know,” Allison said dryly. “As to when—it was a couple of months ago, after I came back from France but before class started. It wasn't—it only happened once. We didn't talk about it much afterwards. She was getting over Jackson, and I was getting over—”
“Me,” Scott said, earning himself points for the most useless comment ever.
“Sooo,” Stiles said, not wanting to let awkwardness settle. “I guess it means all of us have kissed Lydia, then. This is an interesting, albeit not terribly surprising fact.”
“What do you mean?” Scott asked, just as Allison was saying, “Oh, yes, I guess it does.”
“What are you talking about?” Scott asked again. “You kissed Lydia—when? Why didn't you tell me? Why did you tell Allison?”
“I didn't tell Allison!”
“Lydia told me,” Allison said.
“What did she say?” Stiles couldn't help but ask, wondering how Lydia had spun it to her best friend.
“Just that she'd kissed you. It didn't look like she wanted to talk about it, so I didn't ask.”
“Oh, okay.” He didn't know if he was relieved or disappointed that Lydia hadn't felt like sharing more. “Well, it was just—It was nothing, really. I was—it was when Jennifer kidnapped our parents, you know, and I'd just gotten Isaac's text about Chris, and I thought—that's it, she got all of them and she's going to kill them. You know.” He felt himself getting choked up at the mere thought, even though his dad had been saved and he was the one in trouble now—yeah, that last thought didn't really help. “So it kind of triggered a panic attack? And Lydia's solution to break me out of it was to kiss me. That's it. That's the whole story. Not very glamorous, huh?”
“Dude, I didn't tell you because it was humiliating, okay? When I envisioned my first kiss with Lydia—and believe me, I have, many times—it didn't feature me curled up on the floor, desperately trying to take a full breath.”
“Dude, you know I wouldn't have judged you for it, right?”
Stiles felt something warm swell inside his chest. It was the utter earnestness in Scott's voice that sold it.
“I know, man.”
His hand twitched by his side and he curled it into a fist. He ached for physical contact in a way he never had before. He'd always been a pretty tactile person, but this was different. This felt closer to his irrepressible need to move even when the situation called for stillness. He hadn't realized how much touch had kept him grounded until he couldn't rely on it anymore.
“So, uh.” He cleared his throat and swallowed. He couldn't get too emotional right now, because if he did he wasn't sure he could stop, and emotions wasn't what he needed to survive the mess they were in. They would only get in the way. “How did it feel? Making out with Lydia.”
“I thought you just said that—” Scott trailed off, ending on a confused sound.
“Yeah, no, that was like, a two-second close-mouthed kiss, and I was out of my damn mind. That totally doesn't count.” Neither Scott nor Allison said anything. “Come on, guys! Don't hold out on me! It looks like I'm going to die a virgin, so let me at least live vicariously through you!”
He heard himself say the words and winced, leaning his forehead against the bars. That was probably several kinds of inappropriate, right? He was never the best judge for it, but he didn't want to make Scott or Allison uncomfortable or dwell too much on their situation, so he opened his mouth to say, never mind, but Allison spoke before he had the chance to do it: “Soft. Her hair's really soft, I couldn't stop raking my fingers through it. And Lydia is really—determined, I guess? Like, I didn't know what I was doing, I'd never made out with another girl before, and I don't think she had more experience than me, but she just pushed me against the bed, and—”
“She smells really good,” Scott said. “That's what I remember.”
“She's a really good kisser.”
“Better than me?” Scott asked with the hint of a whine.
Stiles propped himself up against the back wall of his cage, shifting until he was in a more or less comfortable position. All that talk of kissing and Lydia was turning him on, and wasn't it an amazing testament to the endurance of teenage libido that he could get hard after he'd been kidnapped, forced to kill for other people's entertainment, and thrown into a fucking cage to spend the night? Scott and Lydia making out. Yeah, that was hot. Allison and Lydia making out, goddamn. He spread his knees, trying to give his dick some room.
“Why haven't you guys tried to date?”
“Well, I think all she wanted was to make Jackson jealous, and also you probably would've tried to kill me?”
“I was talking to Allison, but, yeah, good point.”
“I—” Allison's voice was reduced to a soft, barely there murmur. “Lydia wasn't interested in a relationship. Not after Jackson. And, I, well, I think it was too early for me too.”
“Would you now? I mean, if we make it out of here, and, and we can go back to our lives, would you ask Lydia out?”
“I don't know, what about you?”
He snorted. “I don't think she's interested in me.”
“She kissed you,” Allison pointed out.
“She was just trying to stop my freak out.”
“I don't know, this doesn't seem like the most intuitive way to do it. And I don't think Lydia would kiss anyone she wasn't at least a bit attracted to.”
Allison probably had a point. Did it matter, though? Lydia, like anything belonging to their real lives, felt as out of reach as a dreamland peopled with unicorns.
“Scott?” Stiles called, noticing that Scott had been silent for a while. “You okay in there, buddy?”
“Uh? Oh, yeah, sorry. I think I was starting to fall asleep.”
Guilt churned in Stiles' stomach. Scott didn't talk about it, but he was still reeling from his first kill and Stiles knew it affected his sleep. “Get some rest,” he said gently. “Long day tomorrow.”
“I'll be fine. I'm pretty tired too. Good night, Scott. Good night, Allison.”
Scott and Allison both echoed with their goodnights, and their prison was once again silent. Stiles rubbed a hand over his face, and pressed his fingertips against his temple, trying the stave off the headache that was starting to form there. He was still half-hard, and a bit annoyed about it. He hadn't rubbed one out since they'd been kidnapped; he hadn't exactly had a lot of privacy, or the right mindset for it. Should he ignore it until it went away, or take advantage of the fact that he was relatively alone to seek a little relief? It wasn't like it was taking away from the sleep he was not having.
Decision made, he unlaced his pants, mindful of his bruised stomach, and slid a hand inside his underwear. His dick perked up at the touch, but he still felt too uncomfortable to really get in the mood. He sat up a bit straighter, shoulder blades scraping the wall, and almost banged his head on the roof of his cage. He stifled a curse then closed his eyes, trying to separate himself from his surroundings. He needed some good mental image to get him going—Lydia, it had started with Lydia, right? He thought of Allison going on about Lydia's hair, and the memory of Lydia flinging herself in his arms after he'd freed her from that trap in the woods came to him unbidden. He remembered the silky caress of her hair against his face, the scent of her shampoo in his nose. Allison had also said something about Lydia pushing her against the bed—yeah, yeah, oh yeah, that did it for him. Stiles pushed his underwear down a bit so he'd be able to speed his thrusts.
Out of the darkness, a soft groan from Scott broke the silence, and Stiles paused in his movement. Was it a sleepy groan, or... Could Scott hear him—smell him, maybe—with those freaky werewolf senses of his? That simple possibility should be enough to make him stop, but Stiles' hand didn't seem to be answering his brain anymore because it started pumping again, up and down, down and up.
Could Allison hear him too? She didn't have werewolf senses but it was completely silent in there, no other noise to distract from the ones he was making, and the more he tried to be quiet, the more he felt he was being terribly loud: the smack-smack of skin against skin, his heavy breathing, the sounds he was trying to hold down. If Allison wasn't asleep yet, then there was almost no way she couldn't hear him, and no way Scott couldn't, and if they could then for sure they knew what he was doing, but they weren't saying anything, why weren't they telling him to stop, oh god. Stiles closed his eyes and bit his lip, feeling lightheaded from the efforts he was making not to breathe too heavily, almost choking on the moans that wanted out. This was so wrong—Scott was his bro and Allison was a bro's ex but also a forever love, and he really shouldn't put them in this situation, but his dick was a tough little trooper because it didn't hamper his arousal one bit. Stiles ended up spilling all over his hand, and had to wipe it on the floor.
Shivering from the cool temperature and his post-orgasm crash, he curled up once more and tried to sleep.